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Why Did NYC Derail a Historic Subway Tunnel's Excavation?

The Verge ran a great article last year detailing the story of Bob Diamond, the man who discovered an abandoned 1844 subway tunnel beneath Atlantic Avenue in Cobble Hill and in recent years has been fighting the city to continue his excavation. In 2010, a National Geographic documentary on the tunnel that Diamond was involved with fell through after city organizations seemed to turn against it—"The city's sudden crackdown on the tunnel may have had something to do with the changing neighborhood," The Verge wrote, referring to increased attention that gentrification brought to Cobble Hill. However, some newly revealed emails from the Press Secretary at the Department of Transportation suggest a simpler explanation: the DOT was worried that the documentary would make them look bad.

Diamond had feuded on and off with the Department of Transportation over access to the tunnel—where an 1830s locomotive is believe to be buried—land the documentary apparently exacerbated the bad blood. The Daily News reports that DOT PR guy Seth Solomonow wrote to a National Geographic executive producer in 2011, "If people from the Channel...want to call me they'll simply be hearing me 'yell at them' and then (I'll) make sure the film will NEVER HAPPEN," continuing, "With the DOT being cast as the bad guy by Bob Diamond, we cannot, at this point, allow National Geographic access to the tunnel...Let me make it clearer. Do not call us. We will call you."

Diamond filed a lawsuit against the DOT and the FDNY later that year demanding access to the tunnel and $35 million in damages. It was dismissed, and he filed an appeal in 2013.
· Tunnel vision: how an obsessed explorer found and lost the world's oldest subway [The Verge]
· City put stop to excavation of 1830's train in Brooklyn tunnel due to petty politics, press leaks [NYDN]
· The Quest To Enter World's Oldest Subway Under Atlantic Ave. [Curbed]